SOBE Wine and Food: The best of the worst

The anteroom to the "Best of the Best"

I wake up surprisingly early considering when I collapsed in bed the night before.   Ted takes pity on me and offers to pick up the coladas (cuban coffee) at Davids.

Lunch arrives quickly and Ted gets us together with his friend John, his wife and their 8 month old son for lunch at Smith and Wollenskys.  This is a steak house your grandparents would take you to.  This is the recent outpost of the NYC classic started in 1977 and advertised along with all the other classic steakhouses found in every in flight magazine.  In Miami it is located in the newly re-worked south point park on “government cut” across from Fisher island.

We have a classic steak house lunch and later stroll in the park on the most gorgeous day of my trip.  The parking lot looks like a fine automobile sales lot.

I reconnect with Julie and make plans to meet at the newly remodeled Fontainbleau for the “Best of the Best” event.  The event features a multitude of the nation’s top chef and winemakers.  The anteroom is focused on fine champagne and their food counterparts.  The main room is a very large banquet hall set up with a multitude of booths.  At every one of these events it’s impossible to hit every booth so you have to be selective and try to feed and drink based on recognized names or by long lines.

We talk to Stephan Pyles, Terrance Brennan, Alfred Portale and Larry Stone of Rubicon.  All the dishes I sample are outstanding, with one very recurrent theme: the use of cheap cuts of meat braised for a long time.  This is why I dub this post “the best of the worst.”  It takes an accomplished chef to cook tough cuts of meat properly and utilize them in a dish.  This is no longer a trend among chefs, it’s clearly the norm.  Some of the chefs are using meat found higher on the animal but most of the time I was pin balling from dishes featuring oxtail, cheek, shortrib and the ubiquitous pork belly.  All delicious and the wines at this event rose to the occasion.

A view inside the new banquet hall at the Fontainbleau

To not miss out on the simultaneous event occurring on the beach, we head to the Bubble Q.   This is the event that seems to be on everyone’s list.   It is held in the same tent as the Burger Bash the night before.  However they had completely changed the set up to accommodate the event.   When we get there it is already packed and the thumping techno, hip hop and techno re-worked classic rock overtake any opportunity for conversation.  Clearly not the focus of the event.  People (a seemingly older demographic) are here to celebrate by drinking champagne, eating upscale grilled foods and dancing to their favorite tunes.  It is another all star line up of chefs from around the US with Emeril leading the pack.

I’m satiated from the previous event and more in the mood for a mellow environment, so the event is lost on me.

The Miami feminine contingency is still very competitive and in their more advanced years the work is more maintenance and remodeling.  One young lady sticks out in my memory. I would describe her as classy sleazy or the female equivalent of a mullet.  Perfect low cut party gown with matching shoes with one arm tattooed to a full sleeve.

The Perrier Jouet champagne fairy

The big focus of entertainment, beside the DJ with a sax player and drummer playing along with the music, is a young lady in a leotard that they pull up on a rope to fill the crowd’s champagne glasses with Perrier Jouet the sponsors of the event.

We end the evening at the Sagamore just behind the Bubble Q tent.   Two women are in the water in mermaid outfits dancing to the music and basically being mermaids.  I’m exhausted and decide on an early night.

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